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Updated: Who’s on Deck for Schwartz’s Seat?

PA13 Dems
PA-13 and its registered Democrats. Source: Labels & Lists

Update: Since we posted this story, six more names have surfaced. We added them below.


As it seems more and more likely that Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz will run for Governor, the 13th congressional district is buzzing with possible candidates.

The district is 60% Democratic and votes that way, meaning the real race is in the primary.

The real question is geography. Will the tradition of the long reigning line of Montgomery County officials stay intact, or is it possible that Philadelphia can produce a candidate that will be able to take the seat?

Part of the reason for such success in Montgomery County officials retaining this seat for so long is money. The richest county in the state and one of the top 100 wealthiest in the country, something is to be said about the big time money that the Montco crowd can raise in their home base. But given the PA-13 redistricting shift toward Philadelphia (52.3% of PA-13 Dems live there), a strong push by Philly Dems and labor unions could bring it home.

Here are the 6 big names we’re hearing so far.

Brendan Boyle

Northeast Philly State Rep. Brendan Boyle is in his third term as a legislator. He’s also a professor at Drexel University, an Aspen Institute fellow, and he recently finished serving a cycle as HDCC Chairman. His entire legislative district sits within the 13th congressional district, as does that of his brother State Rep. Kevin Boyle.

Two sources close to Boyle confirm he is “100% running” for the seat and has been preparing for a bid since Schwartz’s news surfaced. As an effective fundraiser, he is expected to have widespread support among many of the unions important in Philadelphia politics. Wayne Miller of Sprinklerfitters Local 692 said he thought Boyle could count on union support, too.

“If Brendan Boyle runs we will be 100% in support of him — the plumbers, the steamfitters, all of the building trades” said Miller. “With a district that’s 52% of Philadelphia, Brendan would be a front runner. If he wasn’t we wouldn’t be behind him. He would be great for Montgomery County and he would be great for Northeast Philadelphia. Hopefully he decides to run.”

Daylin Leach

While not as large as the Philadelphia portion of the district, Montgomery County still retains a sizeable and significant part of the 13th. A leading contender from the suburbs seems to be State Senator Daylin Leach. He’s been making calls and locking down support for a run for weeks.

A long time progressive champion, Leach has been in the legislature for over a decade. He has been outspoken on many liberal causes, including Marcellus drilling, gay marriage and marijuana legalization. He is considered by many to be the wittiest member of the legislature.

As the chairman of the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee, he helped the party pick up 3 seats in the chamber and showed himself to be an able fundraiser. He lives just over the border in the 7th district, but many of his constituents overlap.

Josh Shapiro or Leslie Richards

Other Montgomery County names being mentioned for the 13th include current Montgomery County commissioners Josh Shapiro and Leslie Richards.

Some believe Shapiro, 40 years old and a strong fundraiser, has had his eye on the seat. Others say that he has statewide rather than congressional ambitions. He’s only been in office for a year, he’s consistently getting good press, and many insiders believe that he wants to see through at least a full term before he runs for something else.

One political consultant said, “It doesn’t make sense for Shapiro to run for this because he has too much to lose and nothing to gain. Josh is already the executive of Montgomery County and is a leading candidate for US Senate in 2016 or Governor in 2018. Running for a majority Philadelphia-based US House seat wouldn’t do anything to help his statewide appeal.”

If he doesn’t run, Richards might. A former Whitemarsh Township supervisor and Shapiro’s running mate in their successful 2011 County Commissioner race, she has been notably low key so far during her tenure – but local insiders widely consider her a rising star.

Jonathan Saidel

Former City Controller Jonathan Saidel is another well-known Philadelphia name mentioned by insiders – and he the ability to fundraise. Saidel served as city controller before resigning in 2005 to run for mayor, a race from which he eventually withdrew. He lost narrowly to central PA State Rep. Scott Conklin (D-Centre) in the 2010 Democratic primary for Lt. Governor.

Saidel is well known and well-liked by party activists and has a long track record of involvement in Philadelphia machine politics.

Allyson Schwartz

Her seat in the House and rising influence there gives a run for statewide office a high opportunity cost. But she could try to thread the needle.

While the law precludes one person from serving in two offices, nothing says she can’t run for both (except political practicality). It’s unlikely that she could make a serious general election run for Gov, but she could choose to stay on the ballot for both offices through the primary. It would provide insurance against a Gov primary loss.

She told Capitolwire that she wasn’t inclined to run for both, but her answer left enough wiggle room for a primary maneuver as described above.

Q. Will you run for one office or for Congress and governor in 2014? Do you see yourself as choosing one or the other?

Schwartz: I do. I would be asking voters to be all-in for me. It’s really galvanizing people who share my hopes and expectations for Pennsylvania, to be all-in, and I would expect myself to be as well.

If she were to run in both primaries and win, then drop from the Congress race, local committee members from Philly and Montco would meet and vote to choose the nominee.]

Update: here are 6 more names that have surfaced.

Dr. Valerie Arkoosh

She’s the most notable non-office holder on the list. An anesthesiologist and professor at U Penn, she’s also the president of the National Physicians Alliance. There she’s loudly advocated for Democratic policies, especially the health care law (on Martha Stewart in 2009) and Medicaid (last week on MSNBC). She’s an active donor, fundraiser, and advocate for women getting involved in politics. Oh, and her husband is Jeffrey Harbison, Schwartz’s campaign treasurer.

Mark Levy

The Montgomery County Prothonotary could jump in if Shapiro and Richards take a pass (or even if they don’t). A Philly transplant, he’s well connected in the Montco Democratic committee and the district’s prominent Jewish community.

Ed Neilson or John Sabatina

These Philly two state Reps. are both relatively new (1 year and 6 years, respectively), and they share a common problem: redistricting. Their districts will be merged if the latest maps are approved (likely), meaning they would have to face each other in a primary. Or, one could run for Congress.

Mike Stack

The Philadelphia State Senator is presently running for Governor, but a vacant congressional seat could change his mind. He was moved into the 13th district during redistricting, and his Senate district is the best represented there (24.2% of registered Dems in PA-13 are already his constituents; the next highest is SD-4 with 16.6%).

LeAnna Washington

When Schwartz won her seat in Congress in 2004 Washington replaced her in the state Senate, and in some ways she’d be a natural successor for this seat. They both share an interest in health policy (Washington has a Masters degree in health science) and the Senator is known to keep an eye on policy goings on in DC. Given Schwartz’s career-long emphasis on the importance of women in government, it’s not hard to imagine her and supporters rallying around another talented female legislator. Washington lives in Philadelphia.

49 Responses

  1. On 4/2/14 ,I stated comments supporting Beverly Plosa-Bowser,a great candidate. I just happen to be Jewish & Beverly,Roman Catholic. Religion doesn’t cross my mind,she’s the best candidate. I take note on comments made by Joe Kelly on 2/14/14,who clearly makes his anti-Semite feelings clear in his comments on Valerie Arkoosh. Kelly’s comments were probably the same as Hitler’s backers in 1930’s Germany. Some people don’t deserve freedom of the press that so many American Jewish & Christian soldiers fought and died for.

  2. The best & most qualified person to fill the PA.13th Congressional seat is Beverly Plosa-Bowser. She’ll be on the Republican primary ballot on 5/20/14. Beverly served over 30 years in the United States Air Force. She attained the rank of Colonel, a combat veteran who served in Bagdad. She was awarded a Bronze Star. She has a Master’s Degree in P.A from Penn State and a Master’s Degree in Political Management from George Washington. An excellent candidate

  3. Valerie Arkoosh another liberal minority loving Jew causing problems and stirring the pot. But she will never say she is a Jew they never do but hide behind other ethnics while they do their dirty work…

  4. Dr. Valerie Arkoosh is an amazing leader who brings a fresh perspective. Daylin should stay locally while Arkoosh represents us nationally.

  5. I don’t think either Schwartz running for Gov nor Boyle running for Congress is a good idea. Schwartz will struggle statewide if she were to somehow win and with Boyle, Planned Parenthood/NARAL will DESTROY him on the airwaves. We also don’t need a Steve Lynch/Dan Lipinski/Bob Borski Dem in such a heavily Democratic district with a lot of pro choice voters in Montco and parts of NE Philly. Boyle fits the mold for a Rust Belt Dem quite well, not here! He should have waited to run for Gov. I like him on a lot of things with labor and handling of Sandusky, but just not this seat. Daylin gets the nod for me despite the fact I personally like him a lot. As for Schwartz, quite the opposite. Rust Belt older Catholics in other parts of the state may not warm up to her so easily as they would other Dems. Who is Captaining the Democratic party here? If anything Boyle should be taking a shot at Gov, not PA-13.

  6. The writer is hilarious. Washington keeps an eye on DC? She would embarrass the citizens of the 13th District with her lack of knowledge and lazy outreach. She is a loud blowhard with no substance. Leach is also a sexist loud blowhard too. All about himself.

  7. MainlineR is wrong. Daylin Leach did, indeed, grow up in Northeast Phila. He may not be a “R”‘s cup of tea, but those who know him, adore him. He’s a breath of fresh air, not a stuffy, predictable talking head. The man is articulate, and knows what he’s talking about. You may not like his politics, but you’re a fool if you think he’s not a viable candidate.

  8. The article I read indicated that The Israel trip was not funded by taxpayer dollars.

  9. I go by Boyle and Shapiro, both are able legislators. I would say, the best from the list. I don’t really understand why Boyle is going to Israel though. As a State Legislator, his trip is a waste of tax payers money. Shapiro has a bad work ethic, not sure, but I have heard rumors that Shapiro was biased in the voting of several house bills. I actually wants to see the candidates full expenditure list. Everything from office supplies to gas mileage is taken from the tax payers money. I want to see where each legislator stands.

  10. Leach is my State Senator and his behavior in Harrisburg and when talking to the media is downright embarrassing to the genteel people of the Main Line. None of the other Democrats in Harrisburg from the Main Line are brash or obnoxious like Leach is.

    If Montgomery County Democrats want to send the next Alan Grayson to DC, he’s surely their guy. I’d, however, rather spare our state the embarrassment he’d bring.

    Thankfully, the majority (or a large percentage of it) of his district (Radnor, Lower Merion, and Haverford Townships along with Narberth and three precincts of Upper Merion Township) is not in the 13th district. It’d be very hard for Leach to win the Democratic primary with the remaning slice of his district in PA-13 being just a small part of the district.

    I guess that, as a Republican, I should be rooting for Leach to win the Democratic Primary because he’d make MontCo Democrats look really unreasonable as their spokesman in DC (as compared to the eloquent Schwartz), but for the good of the Commonwealth, please not Leach.

    Additionally, to some poster above: Leach grew up in the A-B-E, not NE Philly.

  11. The Republican Party cannot sit back on its haunches and let a life-sucking liberal just waltz down to Washington. We need to get the right person to run who will really challenge any of the names on the list. The best candidate for that job would be an intelligent dedicated businesswomen from The Greater Northeast who is also Jewish. Look around at your friends and neighbors and if you know one of these exquisitely qualified people and urge her to run!

  12. GOP Bucks is complaining that people who support Gay Marriage are too liberal. The funny thing is, 54% of PA voters including about 35% of Republicans support Gay Marriage. I guess Pennsylvania is just too liberal for you. Why don’t you go to back to your paradise: Alabama.

  13. Daylin Leach’s “liberal” agenda goes beyond simple moral grounds and party politics, but also shows to be economically sound. CNN projected that if in 2005 Pennsylvania taxed marijuana it would have created 30.5 million in additional revenues. Such a large sum of money would have ability to reinstate education funding for the middle class and further economic development. Besides possibly Representative Boyle, there is a lack of understanding of the economic ramification of their choices by the other candidates. Leach v. Boyle and Leach for the win.

  14. So it looks like the same old Republican game plan – at least as far as it looks on here. Shriek and call the Democrat opponent an ultra liberal till you’re blue in the face. Accuse the Democrat opponent of completely outrageous acts with a nice layer of conspiratorial nuance and watch the Democrat crush the Republican.

  15. Being from Philadelphia I would of course like to see someone from the city take the seat, but I think it will be hard.

    I have met Josh Shapiro and although I think he can come off as typical politician I think he would serve this district well. Maybe the front runner if he decides to leave the commissioner seats. I don’t know if he should leave if he also has his sites on the governor’s mansion, eventually.

    Next runner up would be Leach I suppose if he decided. Most similar to Schwartz on the liberal side. I personally don’t care for him and think he won’t play well in Philly, other than the whole weed thing.

    Boyle is an interesting pick. He is a young enough to have outsider appeal and a great speaker. Don’t know if he can fundraiser like the rest of these guys tho.

    As much as I would like to see a viable republican, I don’t see it happening with Montgomery county crowds and the already heavily democratic areas in Philly.

    Lastly, enough with the “what if we have no women?!?!?!!” Who cares as long as the person representing us is intelligent and a good legislator. A hermaphrodite could run for the seat for all I care, as long as the person is better than the current crop of “do nothing’s” we have in there now.

  16. I hope Leach runs. He accomplishes nothing for his constituents at the state level, so he’d be a perfect fit in Congress.

  17. Don’t forget there is a vacancy on the Supreme Court that must be filled and this is IMPORTANT. I suggest Leader Turzai, a well qualified man.

  18. Steve-

    I thinking you might be smoking the stuff Daylin wants to legalize.

    Daylin is a huge draw at events. He’s led the charge on key issues, and both forthright and funny.

    He was in such a comfortable position, he was able to attend events and help other candidates raise money.

    Daylin could be our Al Franken in the House.

  19. I get a kick out of the reporter who wrote this saying it will be decided in the primary ! A strong aggressive republican candidate can win this . What i love better is boyle’s state rep seat opening . Can the R ‘s get that back ??

  20. Daylin is a joke and not taken seriously by anyone involved in MontCo Dem politics. There are a lot of serious good candidates on our side in Montco. Daylin is clearly not one of them.

  21. Wow Dave. It must be awfully easy to hurl accusations of incompetence and criminal behavior from the cheap seats. How long did it take you to create an account to engage in unsubstantiated mudslinging?

    To the adults in the room, while there admittedly wasn’t much movement in the House this past cycle, it’s worth making the distinction between effectiveness as a legislator and the results of one cycle as HDCC chair, especially when Boyle was deprived of roughly 6 months of time to get the ball rolling. One can only hope the PA Dems have learned their lesson in getting Tim Briggs in place early on this time around.

  22. Daylin Leach would be a great choice. We definitely need more progressives in office. Not to mention what a stellar job he did this past election season for the Dems in general. If Brendan Boyle’s job performance at HDCC is any indication of his effectiveness then I’m definitely not impressed.

  23. Are we talking about the same Brendan Boyle who turned into a statewide joke by his horrific mishandling of HDCC? Will he run his Congressional campaign from Ireland like he did the HDCC? This kid is SO OVERRATED, and if anyone ever looked at the way his state staff does political work on state time or how he turns in some questionable expenses, he’ll be toast.

  24. I would be great to have Daylin Leach run! He’s honest, smart and knows how to communicate with the opposing party.

  25. Northeast Philly has changed a lot since Leach grew up. In fact Leach has changed a lot since he was elected! Which one of these candidates truly know what Northeasy Philly and Montgomery County residents care about? In fact which one of these candidates are simply not looking for an egotisitical “promotion”?

  26. replacing the lone female member of congress from pa with a man is not the greatest visual. so i would agree on leslie richards, also state sen leana washington, and state rep madeline dean, or montco clerk of courts ann thorburg weiss would be in the mix as well

  27. Montgomery will probably turn out more voters in the district than Philadelphia and has no other resident in Congress, thus having more to lose.

  28. If either of the Montco Commissioners mentioned run, they will have lost their minds. They have much better jobs now with far more responsibility and much less commute. And they are the majority. The third commissioner, the Republican, doesn’t live in the district. Face it, this house seat is an expensive proposition, runs every two years, to obtain a terrible job, low man/woman on the totem pole, and in the minority to boot! Josh Shapiro and Leslie Richards are far too smart to bite on this.

  29. “Leach and Boyle are also part of that LGBT group that is pushing gay rights. They are too liberal!!!”

    GOP Bucks obviously doesn’t think gay people deserve to have rights.

  30. If the PA Supreme Court approves the redistricting plan, Neilson and Sabatina will be in the same PA House district and will run against each other.

    Shapiro would be the toughest candidate to beat, if he ran. Shapiro has greater name ID to begin the race, is a far better fundraiser, and is a far better campaigner than all of them. But Shapiro will not run for Congress, he will wait until 2016 to run for U.S. Senate.

    If Schwartz runs for Governor, Leach will run, another Montgomery County candidate will run, Brendan Boyle will run, and Stack may run.

  31. Wow, that’s an impressive list. I’ve heard a few more names that are interested:

    State Rep. John Sabatina
    Montco Prothy Mark Levy
    State Senator Mike Stack
    State Rep. Ed Nielson

  32. @GOP Bucks

    There is no such thing as being “too liberal”…..To be a liberal is to be a REAL AMERICAN PATRIOT!!!

  33. Daylin leach 2014!!! I want to smoke my grass in peace!!! He will legalize Marijuana and end The Man’s prohibition. Also, he is funny as heck.

    Theres one joke he told about Rome that I thought was hilarious!! More legislators need a sense of humor:

    “I’ve just learned the very basic things you would need to get by in Rome. I can say ‘Hello,’ ‘Goodbye,’ ‘Where’s the bathroom,’ ‘Is your sister really twelve?’ -Leach

  34. PA legislators redistricted everything to get more conservative voters into swing districts which naturally left some new districts packed with more democrats- PA13 is one of those ridiculously shaped districts that republicans conceded to the dems in order to turn more swing districts in their favor.
    So, like this article implies, aint no chance a republican is taking over Rep. Schwartz’s district.

  35. I think that being mixed on abortion could be a major issue in the Democratic primary here. A true social progressive like Leach could hammer Boyle on that.

  36. No, unfortunately Boyle is definitely NOT pro-life. Big disappointment. He voted for all of that radical liberal legislation that Dems have been pushing.
    Leach and Boyle are also part of that LGBT group that is pushing gay rights. They are too liberal!!!

  37. As a long-time Montgomery County resident who actively follows politics, I have been following the careers of Shapiro, Richards and Boyle closely. All three are able legislators, especially Shapiro and Boyle, both of whom I have heard speak before. Boyle has my support if he runs; he is brilliant and well-spoken, and among the smartest legislators in the state. His support for Israel is great; I saw in the papers this week that he is going on a legislative trip there next week to discuss foreign policy issues. Finally, he always answers my correspondence as well, when I write about legislation I would like him to support or vote against. Thats not something that many legislators who I write do, sadly! He would make a great congressman.

  38. Hey where are the Republicans on this list?? We could win this (although I know it wouldn’t be easy)
    Boyle – LIBERAL
    Leach – LIBERAL
    Shapiro – LIBERAL
    Richards – don’t know her; I’m sure a LIBERAL
    Need a good Republican to run!

  39. Please, please let it be Boyle. As a resident of the Northeast I couldn’t stomach another aloof person from the suburbs. Boyle grew up in a tough neighborhood without a silver spoon in his mouth but has accomplished a lot.

  40. I sure hope Boyle runs. I can’t stand Shapiro or Richards. The way they carved the County budget and cut funding to domestic violence groups and special needs groups is ridiculous.

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